Following on from Dunedin's 'fishbowl' innovation event the previous night, the Christchurch session was held at the Callaghan Innovation offices in Burnside. Approximately 25 people were in attendance; a small but diverse cross-section of Christchurch's ecosystem.

The event started with Ross Pearce from Callaghan Innovation running through Callaghan's 5 focus areas for help and support - access to experts, technology and product development, innovation skills, business collaborations and R&D grants. The session was then facilitated by David Stokes and Colart Miles from Velox Innovation. Run according to Agile methodologies, a KanBan board was used to manage the event agenda.

Event discussion feedback:

Speed And The MVP

The group discussed the importance of speed to innovation first up. Companies now need to operate leaner and more competitively unless they risk being swallowed. Building products and technology is also all about the minimum viable product. A great insight from one of the attendees was this - when imagining your target customers perfect day, how could your product feature in it?

While speed to market is critical, another attendee noted that quick is good, but right is more important. An example given was their experience dealing with Taiwan. Their contacts had taken shortcuts on everything, compromising the quality of the product. They didn't, however, even realise they were doing it, because it is completely normal for them to operate like that. 

Fear of Failure Gone, But Business Skills Lacking

While there has historically been a social stigma around failure, startups and founders now experience less of this fear because it is now widely regarded as part of the journey.

Young kiwis, however, often lack the executive skills or business skills more prevalent in North America or Europe. There is also a lack of mental training - military service is mandatory in parts of Europe and this helps hone mental resilience and strength. One attendee suggested accelerated learning could be achieved through a person gaining experience in different parts of an organisation, regardless of their qualifications. 

Kiwi Advantages

It was agreed that one of the most important aspects of New Zealanders are our general skillsets. We have this ability to see the big picture, and fit pieces of the puzzle together.

New Zealand is also a great testbed for new products and technologies, both because of our relative isolation and the lack of innovation-crippling legislation. One example includes rocket fabricator RocketLab's testing of new rockets, and the general leniency they received from authorities, when trying to complete the same testing in the USA would be almost impossible. Another is Facebook's testing of new updates here, utilising our small population and isolation as a sample size. 

Further snapshots

  • New Zealand has the potential to become global leaders in space innovation
  • Being insulated is one of our largest strengths
  • There has however been a lag in leveraging our unique advantages with legislation and isolation
  • Kiwi "can do" attitude is fantastic but we often don't put enough emphasis on striving for excellence
  • New Zealand is not a poor country, yet there has always been low investment in R&D
  • Broadband hasn't kept pace 
  • Attracting innovation - how much importance should we put on attracting a company like Google to New Zealand?


We asked attendees to give us feedback on the fishbowl format and other event details. The general consensus was:

  • The group was very keen to not just gather for another 'fishbowl' session, but actively discuss real business problems, and provide and receive help
  • It was agreed that the fishbowl format promoted open conversation
  • Another meeting in roughly 6 weeks time was to be planned

Colart completed another live conversation map at this session:

And here it is in progress, sped up to 20x normal speed:

We also caught a few photos of the event, the people, and the innovation discussion workings:

If you are based in Christchurch or wider New Zealand, are actively involved in innovation and/or share an interest in greatly accelerating your innovation practices, and can attend these events, please contact us either here or via the Innovation Skills Working Group on Linkedin.

Check out coverage from the Dunedin event, held the previous evening.